Clara admired Wendy, but only from afar. In short, she was everything that Wendy was not – a striking woman in her early 30s, with long blonde hair usually worn in an elaborate bun or a French roll; able to wear clothes, casual and formal alike, elegantly; and exceptionally focused on her career.
Even though they did converse frequently, Clara felt there was always something restrained, business-like and very controlled about their encounters. It seemed that no matter what she did to engage the other women in a prelude to friendship – going for lunch, getting together after work for a drink, inviting her to a birthday party for a mutual friend – Wendy remained aloof.
But when she walked down the hall, she would hear chatter and laughter emanating from the break room, Wendy’s rich laughter floating free from the others; her voice raised musically above the rest. When Clara entered the room, the other women gathered around the communal tea pot would invite her to join them, while Wendy fell silent, reverting back to the restrained person Clara knew all too well. It was difficult not to give into the temptation of cause-and-effect; not to feel rejected in some way that was tangible, targeted and personal.
From Afar – Fragment #31